Australian Energy Foundation, with our partners the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) and Akin Consulting, have developed a feasibility and business case for of the City of Wodonga (Council) and Renewable Albury Wodonga (RAW). It investigates the potential for a two-megawatt community solar project to be developed within the municipality, with the community benefit of the project directed to low income households and community education within the Wodonga region.
The Wodonga community, through local community energy group RAW Energy and Council, appointed AEF to test the conditions in which a community-developer partnership (a type of community energy model) can be successful to demonstrate that a partnership model can work locally. The project was funded through a Victorian Government New Energy Jobs grant.
The feasibility stage of the project engaged local stakeholders and presented a number of potential models for them to consider. The ‘community-developer partnership’ model was chosen as a best fit for the local context and a business case process, involving three potential scenarios, was applied to determine whether this approach to community energy is viable in Wodonga.
The transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources has gathered significant momentum and increasing diversity in Australia in recent years. Strong Victorian government support for community-based organisations pioneering new energy delivery models, is further stimulating a strong ‘community energy’ sector that is seeking to help shape our energy system by creating fairer, locally beneficial models for renewable energy generation.
Recent testing for community investment in renewable energy projects in Australia suggests there is a large and diverse range of community members ready to become ‘ethical investors’ for modest return, low risk opportunities, which have a demonstrated community benefit. This continues to encourage communities like Wodonga to innovate new community investment models and conduct feasibility studies in their local areas as the clean energy transition continues to build momentum.